Pakistan-EU summit faces Zardari-Gilani protocol hurdle

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Brussels, Feb.18 (ANI): An unexpected "protocol mismatch" could prevent the holding of the planned Pakistan-European Union summit in April.

According to The Dawn, the hitch appears to be over suggestions by Islamabad that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani rather than President Asif Ali Zardari attend the meeting.

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who will speak on behalf of the 27-nation bloc at the meeting on April 21, are adamant that Zardari, as president, should represent Pakistan at the summit.

"We expect the dialogue with Pakistan in April to be held at the highest level," an EU diplomat told The Dawn.

"At the moment, this means President Zardari," he added.

The message was conveyed to Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on February 16.

Ashton is believed to have told Qureshi that while Van Rompuy and Barroso would be delighted to meet Gilani at any time, talks with the Pakistani prime minister could not be termed a 'summit'.

However, if the planned constitutional changes transferring power to the prime minister were made ahead of the EU-Pakistan summit, Gilani would be welcome as a dialogue partner, he said. (ANI)

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